There's no single treatment for mucositis, asit largely depends on which type of mucositis you have and exactly what caused it.
For example, effective treatments for oral mucositis caused by Radiotherapy may not be helpful if you have gastrointestinal mucositis caused by high-dose chemotherapy .
If you have oral mucositis, it's very important you have a good oral hygiene routine, because it can reduce the severity of your symptoms and how long you experience them.
Ideally, you should be assessed by a dentist before starting radiotherapy to the head or neck, or receiving high-dose chemotherapy before a stem cell transplant.
Below is some general advice on good oral hygiene. However, always follow any advice your cancer treatment team gives you if it differs from the advice below:
If your mouth is sore because of Radiotherapy or chemotherapy , you may need to change your eating habits. The following tips may help you to avoid making your symptoms worse:
Avoid certain foods and drinks including:
If you're unable to eat or drink because of mucositis, you may need to be admitted to hospitalto receive nutrition.
Sucking ice cubes or ice chipsissometimes recommended as a way of providing relief from the symptoms of oral mucositis.
The healthcare professionals treating you will adviseon whether ice cubes could help you.
Oral mucositis is often painful, but there are several kinds of painkillers availableto try. You may be given painkillers in the form of a mouth rinse, gel or spray.
Ifa painkiller is not effective, other medicines can be tried alongside it, or a stronger painkiller can be used. Worsening pain does not always mean you'll need to be admitted to hospital, and in most cases you can take the painkilling medication yourself at home.
If a simple painkiller such as paracetamol doesn't work,you may be prescribed a stronger type of painkiller, such as codeine. If this still isn't effective, a stronger opioid can be prescribed, such as morphine.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may provide pain relief for some people. However, if you're receivingsome types ofchemotherapy, NSAIDs could damage your kidneys and affect the way they work. For this reason, only take painkillers as advised by your treatment team.
Palifermin is a type of medicationthat has proved successful in treating people having a stem cell transplant ( bone marrow transplant ). This procedureusually includes chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
Palifermin encourages the growth of new cells on the lining of the mucous membrane. This growth is thought to reduce the severity of your symptoms and encourage any ulcers to heal faster. Palifermin also stops sores forming, so can be used to prevent, as well as treat, mucositis.
Palifermin is given by injection. You should receive an injection once a day for three days before your chemotherapy or radiotherapy, and then for three days afterwards, for a total of six doses.
Common side effects of palifermin include:
Less common side effects include swelling of the mouth or face.
The side effects should pass after you have completed the course of palifermin.
Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) is another treatment that can reduce the severity of oral mucositis. It involves focusing low-energy lasers (beams of light) at affected tissue. LLLT is thought to work by stimulating certain cells that then help to speed up the healing process.
As LLLT requires specialist equipment and training, it may only be available at specialist cancer centres or clinics.
The mouth ulcers (sores) that mucositis causes can become infected. If this happens, your treatment team may prescribe medication for this. You may also be given a special mouth wash to use to prevent further infections.
Mucositis may increase the risk of oral thrush, which can be treated with antifungal medicines .
They are both inserted into your bottom and can helprelieve pain and inflammation. They contain both a local anaesthetic to numb the area and a corticosteroid to reduce swelling.
Although there's no conclusive evidence to support its use,a medication calledsucralfate can be taken for mucositis affecting the upper gastrointestinal tract, such as ulcers developing in your stomach or intestines.
Sucralfate is used to create a protective coating over any ulcers. This may help to prevent further damage and speeds up the healing process. Side effects of sucralfate tend to be mild and short-lasting. They include constipation or diarrhoea, indigestion and nausea.
If you develop a rash or swelling around your face or neck, or shortness of breath, it may indicate that you are allergic to sucralfate. If this happens, you should stop taking the medication and contact your treatment team as soon as possible.
Mucositis is a condition that causes pain and inflammation of the surface of the mucous membrane.
Mucositis is usually a side effect of cancer treatment.
Mucositis can usually be diagnosed after a physical examination and a description of your symptoms.